50 whales found dead after mass stranding at Chatham Islands

There has been another mass stranding of pilot whales, this time at Chatham Islands where 50 were found dead on Friday morning.

A stranding of approximately between 80 and 90 whales occurred on Thursday night at the southern end of Hanson Bay, near Owenga on the Chatham Islands.

While it was too late for Department of Conservation (DOC) staff to initially act, they returned at first light to find 30-40 of the whales had refloated themselves and returned to sea.

50 whales found dead after mass stranding at Chatham Islands
Photo credit: Department of Conservation

Fifty-one were found on the beach, but 50 were dead. The remaining whale had to be euthanised due to its poor condition.

"There was no likelihood of being able to successfully save the remaining whale. Sadly the decision was made to euthanise. It was the most humane thing to," said DOC Chatham Islands Operations Manager Dave Carlton.

50 whales found dead after mass stranding at Chatham Islands
Photo credit: Department of Conservation

"This is always an awful decision to have to make."

The local Moriori iwi and Ngati Mutunga iwi have been notified, while DOC works with locals to bury the dead whales.

Skin and blubber samples have been taken from the animals for testing at Massey University to understand more about the species.

This is the third large stranding of whales in the last week, after 145 washed up and died on Stewart Island on Monday, and ten pygmy killer whales were stranded on Ninety Mile Beach on Sunday.

One sperm whale died on Saturday after stranding near Doubtless Bay in Northland.

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